Ask yourself the following questions:
What makes me or my work stand out? This is what positions you in the market, so it should be distinctive, relevant and recognisable or unique. Tip: A personal touch to a story might help to set you apart. See: Pitch.
What do I expect from this event? Tip: Visualize your expectations or write them down to keep them in sight. Also, think further ahead. Are they realistic? Do they fit your goals and ambitions? What will you do if your expectations aren’t met?
What are my goals? Sales, commissions, publicity or new contacts? Tip: Try to think in numbers so you can measure your results. Also, think how you will keep track of the results, and how you will adapt if your goals are at risk of being achieved.
Who do I want to meet? Curators, press, clients or commissioners? Tip: Again, names and numbers are helpful to keep your focus. Any specific people or media that can help reach your goals? Any information on your target audiences, or about your preferred commissioners?
Before the event
Take the necessary promotional actions:
Send out newsletters and invitations. Let your network know where you will be exhibiting before the event and show them what you will be doing after. Tip: Do not only invite people you already know, but invite people you want to know or who need to know you.
Plan a (daily) demonstration, presentation, get-together, give-away etc. and mention this in your invite. Have a drink, a chat and don’t forget to take pictures!
Announce your presentation on social media. Use build-up and behind the scenes pictures to make people curious.
Make sure your website and social media are updated.
Take care of proper photos and texts. Not your cup of tea? Ask for help.
Make a promo pack and price list to hand out. Trade will want to know costs and lead times. Create several price lists: consumer prices, retail prices etc.
Prepare a press kit. Have it online (use a short URL) and ready to share and download. Upload your press images, press releases and project descriptions. Don’t forget to include credits and licensing fees for images and photographs. Press loves background info, process pics and juicy details too.
Send out a press release. Especially if you have some interesting news or new designs you want to share. Tip: you could organize a press-only preview.
Prepare, practise and memorize your story:
Prepare a very short, ten seconds story. For the obvious Pietjes and Marietjes who love to knit and work with porcelain as well… Basically, who are you and what makes you stand out in two or three sentences. See: Focus
Have a short story ready to get to know the person who you are talking to immediately, so you can position your answers and steer the conversation in any wanted direction. A more interactive elevator-pitch, so to speak.
Internalise your long, yet clear story. This enables you to talk effortlessly about yourself and your work, to reveal your “inner designer”, and to show your professional mentality and expertise to future clients and partners.
During the event
Be brave, take action and share your experiences:
Take photos and videos before and during the event to keep your social media updated or to share later.
Talk and listen. To know which story to use, ask questions to get to know the person in front of you. What brings them here? Are they in the design field or just getting inspired? Get acquainted, and perhaps you can make a connection.
Ask for people’s business cards after a good conversation. You want to keep in control and don’t want to wait until people contact you. Tip: bring a folder or a textbook to collect all the business cards you receive. You will meet a lot of people so write a few keynotes on the side to remember for aftersales.
Hand out your business cards. Make sure you have your web address and contact details on the card, and a good visual: something that reminds the visitor of you and your work.
Collect email addresses. Another way to gather plenty of contacts is using a newsletter registration form. Have it on the ready for people who want to keep updated about you and your work.
Take the plunge in direct follow-up. It’s 2021. Dare to send your important contacts a direct, personal email to get in touch on the spot.
Legal and business advice
General tips to prevent unwanted things from happening:
If someone shows interest, you don’t need to feel forced to make any commitments or sign any documents right away. Verbal agreements are legally binding! Promise a follow-up after the event.
If you sell your work or your services, use general terms and conditions properly. We have made various sets that you can download for free. Do you want to be sure everything is covered? As a BNO member you can call our legal advice team to check whether everything is in order.
Make sure your insurance policies are in order: not only during the event, but also for transport.
Other documents you might need.
After the event
High five! You did it, but you’re not quite finished:
Take a deep breath and rest a little to get focused again for follow-up. Tip: sometimes presenting your work can be exhausting. Bring an assistant for the event to share hours so you still have energy to follow-up when you return to your studio.
Take your time to go through your collected business cards and contacts. Now it is key to keep your contacts warm. Don’t be afraid to get in touch, but don’t stalk them either! Tip: send a 'thank you for your visit' email to all interesting contacts you’ve gained.
Send out a newsletter. Let your network and newly added contacts know how you’ve experienced the event and what you are going to do next.
Evaluate your presentation and bring your learnings to practice at the next event.
We can’t answer all of your questions in a checklist. Every designer is different and so is every presentation and event. As a member of our BNO community, you can ask all your questions to our business and legal advice team to make sure you are fully prepared.
Also, you can download all our free legal documents. And remember: you might be presenting your work on your own, but you won’t be standing alone. The whole community stands behind you.
You’ve got this!